Resolving problems in the education system requires unity and vision
Most of us appreciate the problems in education that exist today, and there are sufficient numbers to start to bring about change, but while we remain a divided force, nothing will happen to stimulate the start of those changes. Meanwhile those investors in ed-tech continue to throw money at areas that really do not address the real problems in education that exist.
Consider for a moment the number of teachers, schools, home schoolers, unschoolers, parents and care givers of special needs kids and you have a large number of people that represent a force significant enough to start the ball of change rolling. However everywhere I look I see those many different groups divided by theories and philosophies that really do nothing more than fragment the group as a whole, and so the problem will remain.
The old cliché of ‘United we stand, divided we fall’ has never been more true than in the field of education as it stands today.
The last two years has seen what is virtually an unprecedented interest from the investment community in funding ed-tech opportunities, yet only a mininmal amount of those hundreds of millions of dollars that has been thrown at education really address anything more than tools, services and resources used by the existing system of education, and I have yet to see anything that really addresses the core problems.
What an opportunity wasted.
We currently provide kids with an opportunity to be educated where literally only the strongest survive. Compare this to a sinking ship where only the best swimmers deserve a lifejacket and assistance, and it paints a dismal picture. Anyone that thinks this over dramatizes the current situation should take a look at what is really happening.
We have a system that literally ignores the talents and skills that each child naturally possesses and then casts aside all but those children that are naturally self-motivated and have a real aim in life. It then leads them down the path to higher education where they are introduced the ‘solution’ of student loans that does not guarantee them employment when they are ready to enter the workforce, and helps them start their adult life encumbered by debt. Is that you want for your child?
This may paint a dismal picture but that is the reality.
I learned some years ago that as a businessman, when confronted with a big problem, the best way to overcome it is to break it down into a series of smaller problems, and overcome them one at a time. So can we apply this principle to the problems in education today? Of course we can, BUT it will only happen with the strength of a unified approach. And can this happen? I fear not because each of those groups that could be coming together to work as a unified force to overcome these problems, are in themselves fractured into yet smaller groups by theories and philosophies – often motivated by totally unrelated issues to a common goal – and all that is being accomplished is that we are shooting ourselves in the foot before we have even started to race. Talk about wasted opportunity!
Do these comments reek of negativity and self-defeat? Are they motivated by criticism of those individual groups and those individual theories and philosophies? No, certainly not.
However we do need to face the fact that by that trying to bandage and treat the symptoms, the cause will remain unhealed.
So what is the solution to the problems in the education system today? Well it starts with a shared vision. It is that shared vision that pinpoints the place on the map where we aim to arrive.
The issues of diagnosing special needs, class sizes, disinterested students, underfunded schools, common core curriculum, and the best technology to flip the classroom and so on, while important, are all issues similar to deciding what sort of car we want to travel in, what type of fuel to use, where we plan to stop for food, which is the best map to use, and who is going to drive. Focusing on the destination is the appropriate place to start.
After all, this was the approach adopted back in the Age of The Industrial Revolution and the Period of Enlightenment when our current system of education was first conceived. And that system of education hasn’t changed since.
If a common vision and the importance of unity means anything to you, then share this message.
President Kennedy words of “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” has never been more applicable to the world of education than what it is today. And what you can do is to start by helping to bring about that unification needed to achieve a common goal.